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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

.      TRAGIC    ELEMENT    IN    MODERN    CONFLICT

suppose two great groups of alliances have been at
virtual deadlock for some years, so that even neutral
.States have begun to assert that war is inevitable—
meaning that war is inevitable, human nature being
what it is. Suppose you have such a situation, and then
one party to the predicament becomes over-exasperated
and makes too wilful a decision; suppose in particular
that he does it because he thinks that somebody must
tafce a strong line at last; and we will say that he even
intends to bluff, but the bluff does not come off and so
a great war is brought about. Then* though this man
has done wrong I could not personally agree that he
should be charged as the sole author of the war and
loaded with all the misery of it as though he were the only
villain in a melodrama. I could not agree that he should
be regarded as guilty in just the way he would have been
if he had fallen unprovoked on a flock of innocent lambs.
When war arises in such circumstances, its true origin
must be traced rather to the whole predicament; and
on this basis the melodrama re-shapes itself, assuming
more of the character of tragedy—the kind of tragedy
in which it is so to speak the situation that gives one a
heartache, and sometimes, as in the case of King Lear,
what seem to be little sins may have colossally dis-
proportionate consequences.

The truth is that when faced by this human predica-
ment—this final unsolved problem of human relations—
the mind winces and turns to look elsewhere, and
statesmen, for their ease, pile all the blame on the
handiest scapegoat. Men fix their attention upon what
in reality are fringing issues, and they remove these